Taiwan Evaluates its Military in Face of China Threat

October 21, 2009 Updated: October 1, 2015

China has over 1,500 missiles aimed at Taiwan.  (Guang Niu/Getty Images )
China has over 1,500 missiles aimed at Taiwan. (Guang Niu/Getty Images )
Taiwan released its 2009 national defense whitepaper on Oct. 20, including for the first time measures for building military confidence against China, according to Taiwan’s Defense Ministry.

It is the first such report issued since President Ma Ying-jeou took office in May 2008.

The report highlighted Beijing’s continued aggressive stance toward the island despite rapid improvement of overall relations between Taiwan and China over the past 18 months.

China has been adding more missiles to its currently estimated 1,500 aimed at Taiwan. It said Beijing’s military stance toward Taiwan has hindered efforts to establish mutual trust or cooperation between the two sides.

“We have not been able to make progress in confidence-building measures because China has not given up … the notion of using force against Taiwan,” The Wall Street Journal quoted the report as saying.

According to AP the report stated, “China’s annual defense budget is still growing by double-digit percentages, while it still has not reduced the more than 1,000 missiles that threaten Taiwan, much less renounced the use of force against us.”

Besides deploying missiles, Beijing has trained some 400,000 amphibious warfare troops in three southern military regions on the mainland across the Taiwan Strait.

The report said that since the United States announced last October the sale of a new weapons’ package to Taiwan, China has taken a carrot-and-stick approach. On the one hand it chose to “package its political aims in more friendly terms,” according to Taiwan News, as exemplified in the proposal for a peace agreement, while on the other it maintained a threatening military presence against the island.

Such a peace agreement might weaken Taiwan’s military power and defense position , thereby breaking its resistance without fighting, according to the whitepaper.

President Ma Ying-jeou urged China to scrap the growing number of missiles targeting the self-ruled island, according to a Reuters , “(There are ) more than 1,000 (missiles) and they haven’t changed that. The number continues to go. That is certainly a great concern for the people here.”

“If we are to negotiate a peace agreement with the mainland, certainly we expect them to do something about those missiles, either to remove them or dismantle them,” said Ma, who has attempted to ease tensions with China since last May.

The 2009 defense report has eight chapters, including Security Trends, Chinese Communist Military, National Defense Policy, National Defense Organization, Enlistment System, and National Defense Resources.

An English-language version of the defense whitepaper will be published on Oct. 27.